How to keep up motivation and attention while learning from home
Most of us know from personal experience that stress, anxiety, and uncertainty can have a huge impact on motivation and attention when we are working. It is likely that those of you working from home may be experiencing difficulties with this right now, and so it’s no surprise that our children are also having trouble attending to and staying motivated for learning during these uncertain times.
Children who are used to working at school and playing at home may be struggling to adjust to the change in expectations; while home may have previously been their ‘safe space’ where demands were minimal, there has been a drastic shift in expectations whereby home is now also a space where they must learn. At first, your children may have been excited by this new way of learning, but you may be finding that now, six weeks later, interest and motivation are dwindling. With this, attention tends to shorten. We thought we would share our best bits of advice for helping your children to stay motivated and engaged while learning from home.
Feed their curiosity
Take a child-led approach; encourage them to find topics to research each week and to explore these creatively in a way that matches their interests and preferred learning style. Not only will this improve motivation, you may also discover new ways of learning and working which had never occurred to you before!
Children who are struggling with work may show signs of poor self-esteem and make sweeping conclusions like ‘I’m rubbish at maths’. Help them to break this down by pointing out areas that are strengths or that are still developing. Try using phrases like “you’re still learning this” or “you’re not an expert at this, yet” and avoid sentences like “I know you’re not very good at this, don’t worry”.
Break it up
Take regular breaks to help with attention; you should use short movement breaks before each task that requires attention and focus, such as academic work. You might find it useful to use a sensory circuit, which takes children through different stages of alertness, meeting their sensory needs to optimise focus and attention while playing and learning. Don’t expect for children to do as much work as they usually would in school – these are extraordinary circumstances and pressure to do 6 hours of work a day will not be helpful or productive.
Keep expectations predictable
Try to keep up a structured routine so that the expectations and demands placed upon your child are predictable. This will help to ease anxiety around work. Use set amounts of time so that they know how long they will be expected to complete work for (e.g. 30 minutes at a time).
Keep it simple
Break down tasks so that they can be completed in stages and keep instructions as simple as possible. Use visual cues to support understanding of verbal information where possible. Keeping information short and snappy will help your child to better understand what is expected of them.
We hope these tips are helpful in supporting your child to manage their attention and motivation while learning from home. If you would like any more information about this topic, or need some support, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or join our online Facebook support group which can be found under ‘groups’ on our Facebook page.
About the Author
Joanne is a friendly, positive, and outgoing Highly Specialist Paediatric Occupational Therapist & Sensory Integration Practitioner, with a real passion and drive for supporting children, young people and their families with everyday activities and challenges. Joanne Works in a professional manner at all times and it is her aim to make a difference to the lives of the individuals and families she supports.
Joanne has previously supported and help to set up Occupational Therapy services to; a children’s therapy company, secure setting for adults with complex needs, and specialist schools for Autism. Joanne’s experience of various diagnoses and working within teams of professionals also extends to complex behavioural difficulties.
Joanne has extensive experience of assessment and report writing, with a particular interest in assisting individuals, families, and Solicitors with SEN Tribunals. Joanne is available to provide assessment, consultancy and training to families, schools, Solicitors and parent support groups, remotely, in the South Wales clinic, across the UK and Internationally.